This is settled fact- the closer you are to someone who can make Southern Custard Pies, the better your life will be. The smoothness of a plain Sweet Egg Custard pie or a ragged Coconut Custard pie conjures up the most soothing Southern comfort imaginable. Southerners are no strangers to Savory pies- we love our Chicken Pot Pies, Summer Tomato Pies, Crawfish Pies and our hand held Meat Pies, but one Savory pie has eluded us during this day and age, because somewhere in our youth or childhood, a Southern Cheese Custard pie became an upscale lady’s luncheon or a miniature party food- and it was called by a fancy French name- Quiche. At country clubs or cobbled lane cafes, at private parties- the cheese custard pie was elevated and re-named to reflect the French Influence over our rustic home cooked food to newly fashionable Southern cuisine. In my older cookbooks- I have found Cheese Custard pies which are slightly different from what we now know as Quiche, and frankly I have recently tried making fillings with the standard quiche piecrust or the old style cheese custard pie with a buttery cracker crumb crust. The old style crumb crust tastes better and lighter to me. Think of the difference between a graham cracker crust and pie crust; then think of a cross between a casserole and a pie, then add eggs, cheese, gentle spices and savory sautéed vegetables then baked to oozing perfection, well I’m drooling writing this! And ladies, listen up! When you call it a Cheese Custard pie instead of a Quiche- well, believe me, real men won’t just eat it- they will finish off every last crumb.
The Cracker Crust is always the same-
- Crush one sleeve of buttery crackers (not saltines)
- Melt 5 Tablespoons of butter (no substitutes!)
- Mix together and press firmly into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate (think graham cracker crust for sweet pies)
- Do not pre-bake.
While the cracker crumb/butter cools down, mix Savory Filling. Now, here is where it gets interesting- you can basically raid your refrigerator for the filling-as long as the ratios are right you are good to go. The constant is:
- 2 Large Eggs
- 3/4 cup of sour cream or cottage cheese and-
- At least 12 ounces of some sort of hard cheese.
If your vegetables need to be sautéed or parboiled do that- onions, squash, mushrooms, green peas, broccoli, spinach are all good choices, you will need one cup total after lightly cooking the vegetables you choose. You do not have to add meat in a Southern Savory Cheese Pie, though most call for chopped ham or bacon, even shrimp- all of which add so much to the flavor. For this Southern Spring Savory Pie,
- I made the Cracker Crumb Crust.
- I preheated the oven to 375º
- Then I chopped 1/4 cup of fresh Green Onion Tops and 3/4 cup of parboiled, drained Asparagus Spears, cut in one inch pieces- don’t measure- just eyeball it!
- I used 5 slices of crisp Bacon rough chopped.
- I had about 6 ounces of Swiss Cheese and a little more than 6 ounces of Muenster Cheese, which I grated. *Here the measurement is not critical but don’t go over 12-14 ounces.
- In a bowl, I lightly whipped 2 large eggs
- Then added 3/4 cup of sour cream
- Next, I added grated cheeses, the green onion tops and asparagus
- Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir.
- Then I added the chopped Bacon, gently stirred into the thick mixture.
I carefully poured the thick mixture into the cracker crumb crust, sprinkled lightly with red pepper flakes, then baked in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Let Spring Cheese Custard pie cool for at least 5 minutes, before cutting into 6-8 slices, since it is a rich pie.
With this Southern Cheese Custard Pie, I served Oven Roasted Shrimp, thinly sliced Navel Oranges on a bed of lettuce with a dessert of Strawberry Shortcakes. A slice of this pie and a citrusy fruit salad would also be a nice luncheon. The variations are endless. Let me repeat, the closer you live to someone who can make sweet or savory Southern Custard pies, the better your life will be!
Love y’all, Camellia
* Ritz® or Townhouse® crackers are good choices Photographs are obviously mine.